When I arrived at the University of Houston Special Collections a year and a half ago as the first dedicated Audiovisual Archivist in the department, I was delighted to discover that UH was home to the KUHT Collection. I personally have a long-time love of public broadcasting, and KUHT holds the notable, and perhaps surprising, title of the “first educational non-profit television” in the country. Educational television was championed in the 1950s as a way to turn every living room into a classroom and would eventually evolve into what we know today as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
One of my first tasks was to gain better intellectual control of the collection in order to help set preservation priorities and ensure access to researchers. Under the guidance of Special Collections Program Manager Matt Richardson, several dedicated and hardworking student workers shifted over 2,000 films and 10,000 videos out of boxes and to new dedicated AV shelving. This new shelving meant that videos could be stored standing up on edge, rather than stacked in boxes, which put the fragile tapes at risk of damage.
The improved storage method also allowed for easier access to tapes for inventory purposes. Working on and off on the inventory over the past year, I am now nearing completion, with just a handful of shelves left to go. Over the year, I have learned a lot about the programming of KUHT over their sixty-three-year history. I’ve come across such curious titles as “Heartbreak Turtle” and “Teenager: A Disease of What?” as well as moments of historical significance captured on film, such as an early 1960s interview with Houston civil rights leader Rev. William A. Lawson. One of my personal favorites from the collection is the series, “People are Taught to Be Different,” available to view on the UH Digital Library. This series, a 1956 collaboration between KUHT and Dr. Henry Allen Bullock from TSU, utilizes interpretive dance and narration to describe the universality of emotion across race, nationality, and culture.
In an effort to make these materials more readily accessible to the public, the KUHT Collection finding aid has been updated to note the extent of the audiovisual holdings, and now includes an abridged list of collection titles, with an eventual eye at making the entire inventory available online. Furthermore, we have digitized and posted one pre-existing Rolodex-style catalog of 1″ Video for researchers to use. Our hope is that this resource will be a valuable asset to those with an interest in the history of public television, Houston, and the many other topics touched upon in six decades of non-profit television productions.
Last week we lost a Houston basketball icon in Dwight Elmo Jones, who passed away on July 25, 2016 after battling a heart ailment over a number of years.
Before Clyde Drexler dunked his way to H-Town fame at Sterling High School, helped establish Texas’ Tallest Fraternity, and claimed an NBA title with his hometown Houston Rockets, Dwight Jones had already established himself as arguably the greatest high school basketball player in Houston history. Born in 1952 in Houston, Jones led Wheatley High School to three straight state championships from 1968 to 1970, played for the Cougars from 1971 to 1973, and even contributed to the Houston Rockets, from 1976 to 1979.
Coaches and teammates of Jones remember him being a special talent from a young age. Playing as a man among boys, playground lore suggests he was already dunking a basketball in the seventh grade. In high school, his Wheatley Wildcats racked up a remarkable 102-2 record and as a senior he averaged 28 points and 24 rebounds a game for the Wildcats in the newly desegregated University Interscholastic League. Recruited by the legendary Guy V. Lewis, Jones played on two NCAA Tournament teams for the Cougars while also leading the 1972 USA Olympic team in scoring before being ejected in the infamous gold medal game, as the Americans fell to the Soviets. Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1973 before joining the Rockets in 1976. His career in the NBA would run through the early 1980s and include stops with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
A fierce competitor, his resolve was no doubt tested when he heard himself declared dead prematurely in an emergency room in 2012. Yet, to everyone’s surprise (except perhaps those closest to him), he survived the surgery and battled his illness with a fervent spirit for nearly four more years. In remembering Jones, current University of Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said, “Dwight was a tremendous competitor, who represented the University of Houston and his nation well during his playing career. While his health declined in recent years, he faced those challenges with the same courage and spirit that made him one of our program’s greats. Tonight, our hearts go out to Dwight’s family and friends and all those who knew and loved him.” The Jones family has established a gofundme page to help defray the expenses they now face.